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Norris’ Grand Prix blog: Hamilton fastest in first practice

Published June 8, 2012

Two-time Canadian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets after first practice for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Canada today, turning a lap of 1 minute, 15.564 seconds around the 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in his McLaren-Mercedes F1 racing car.

He pipped two-time world champion Sebastien Vettel, whose best time in a Red Bull-Renault was 1:15:682.

Next came Mercedes driver Nicol Rosberg at 1:15:782, Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari at 1:15:842 and Mark Webber, who won the last Grand Prix at Monaco for Red Bull, at 1:15:897.

The remaining racers in the top ten were Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and Jenson Button (McLaren).

The times in first practice were well off the pole time of a year ago – 1:13:04 set by Vettel – and the outright race lap record of 1:13:622 set by a Ferrari in 2004 driven by Rubens Barrichello. 

Earlier, the pit lane went green at a little after 11 a.m. following Heikki Kovalainen’s crash and all cars – save the one that was wrecked – are on track.

The practice will continue for another 25 minutes before there is a lunch break scheduled. The afternoon practice is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m.

Earlier, Heikki Kovalainen hit the wall in his Caterham 50 minutes into the session this morning. He is out of the car and unhurt but the car is badly damaged.

Kovalainen went wide exiting turn four and slammed the wall halfway to turn five, knocking two wheels off.

Earlier, Jean-Eric Vergne of France drove his Torro Rosso F1 car onto Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve sharp at 10 o’clock this morning to open practice for Sunday’s Grand Prix du Canada.

Under threatening skies, the other 23 drivers were quickly out of the pits and hard at work to prepare for this year’s seventh Grand Prix.

First Kimi Raikkonen was tops on the time charts, but in the next nano-second, Nico Rosberg’s name was on top as the Mercedes and Lotus-Renault drivers took turns doing fast laps.

After 20 minutes, six drivers had not gone out on the circuit – two-time world champion Sebastien Vettel, Timo Glock, Jenson Button (who won this race a year ago), Charles Pic, Pastor Maldonado and Mark Webber.

As is the case in the first practice session at any Grand Prix, some drivers were very quick right out of the box – Lewis Hamilton, for instance – and others were off the track, jumping curbs and missing apexes.

Trips across the grass were frequent.

A fox ran across the circuit at one point, causing what looked to be a Toro Rosso driver to hit the brakes. Fox escaped; driver carried on.

More coming.

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